Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 146, Issue 3, pp 447–468 | Cite as

Aerodynamic Parameters of a UK City Derived from Morphological Data

  • J. T. Millward-Hopkins
  • A. S. Tomlin
  • L. Ma
  • D. B. Ingham
  • M. Pourkashanian


Detailed three-dimensional building data and a morphometric model are used to estimate the aerodynamic roughness length z 0 and displacement height d over a major UK city (Leeds). Firstly, using an adaptive grid, the city is divided into neighbourhood regions that are each of a relatively consistent geometry throughout. Secondly, for each neighbourhood, a number of geometric parameters are calculated. Finally, these are used as input into a morphometric model that considers the influence of height variability to predict aerodynamic roughness length and displacement height. Predictions are compared with estimations made using standard tables of aerodynamic parameters. The comparison suggests that the accuracy of plan-area-density based tables is likely to be limited, and that height-based tables of aerodynamic parameters may be more accurate for UK cities. The displacement heights in the standard tables are shown to be lower than the current predictions. The importance of geometric details in determining z 0 and d is then explored. Height variability is observed to greatly increase the predicted values. However, building footprint shape only has a significant influence upon the predictions when height variability is not considered. Finally, we develop simple relations to quantify the influence of height variation upon predicted z 0 and d via the standard deviation of building heights. The difference in these predictions compared to the more complex approach highlights the importance of considering the specific shape of the building-height distributions. Collectively, these results suggest that to accurately predict aerodynamic parameters of real urban areas, height variability must be considered in detail, but it may be acceptable to make simple assumptions about building layout and footprint shape.


Digital elevation model Displacement height Heterogeneous array Morphometric model Roughness length Surface roughness Urban morphology Urban surfaces 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. T. Millward-Hopkins
    • 1
  • A. S. Tomlin
    • 1
  • L. Ma
    • 1
  • D. B. Ingham
    • 1
  • M. Pourkashanian
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Process, Environmental and Materials EngineeringUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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